United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

EA-97-197 - Big Rock Point (Consumers Energy Company)

August 12, 1997

EA 97-197

Mr. K. P. Powers
Plant General Manager
Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant
Consumers Energy Company
10269 US 31 North
Charlevoix, MI 49720

SUBJECT: NOTICE OF VIOLATION (NRC Inspection Report No. 50-155/97005(DRS))

Dear Mr. Powers:

This refers to the inspection conducted on March 3, 1997, through April 28, 1997, at the Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant facility. This inspection included a review of your radiation protection program. The written results of this inspection were provided to you on May 19, 1997. You responded to this inspection report in a letter dated June 18, 1997, discussing your reasons for the apparent violations, the corrective steps taken, and the results achieved.

Based on the information developed during the inspection and the information that you provided in your June 18, 1997, response to the inspection report, the NRC has determined that violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are cited in the enclosed Notice of Violation (Notice) and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the subject inspection report. Three events occurred in the first quarter of 1997 which resulted in these violations. On January 20, 1997, an individual entered a high radiation area without meeting the appropriate procedural requirements. Specifically, the individual was not authorized to enter the high radiation area without radiation protection technician coverage. On February 2, 1997, a tour of a high radiation area was conducted without plant staff performing a proper evaluation of the radiological hazards which could have been present. During this tour, two individuals received dosimetry alarms and failed to exit the high radiation area as procedurally required. Finally, on February 24, 1997, radioactive waste filters were transferred without a proper evaluation of the potential radiological hazards. During this transfer, the ventilation configuration was outside of the evaluated design basis, resulting in radioactive contamination being spread throughout the turbine building.

The failure of plant staff to adequately plan for jobs and to evaluate radiological conditions in the job area beforehand indicates a programmatic deficiency in the areas of pre-job planning, ALARA planning, and radiological assessment. In these events, your staff failed to carefully prepare for radiological jobs; to properly assess the current and potential radiological conditions in the job area; to be familiar with procedural and radiation work permit requirements for the job; and to ensure the proper training and qualification of everyone entering the area. In addition, the failure to follow procedures during the February 2, 1997, tour raises significant regulatory concerns since it is imperative that nuclear power plant employees understand the importance of procedural compliance.

The consequence to safety of each event was low since there was not a substantial potential for personnel exposures in excess of regulatory requirements. However, the number, frequency, and similar root causes of these events indicate a breakdown in the radiation protection program, particularly in the areas of pre-job planning, ALARA planning, and radiological assessment. The failures to a perform evaluations of potential radiological hazards in the February 2, 1997, event, and the February 24, 1997, event, are violations of 10 CFR 20.1501. The failures to comply with Technical Specification-required procedures governing high radiation area access during the January 20, 1997, and the February 2, 1997, events were violations of Technical Specification 6.11. Finally, the failure to perform an evaluation of the design change to the ventilation paths, and the failure to update the Final Hazards Safety Report for this change were violations of 10 CFR 50.59 and 10 CFR 50.9. Collectively, these violations represent a significant lack of attention and carelessness toward licensed responsibilities. Therefore, these violations have been categorized in accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions" (Enforcement Policy), NUREG-1600 as a Severity Level III problem.

In accordance with the Enforcement Policy, a base civil penalty in the amount of $55,000 is considered for a Severity Level III problem. Because your facility has been the subject of escalated enforcement actions within 2 years prior to the date of these violations 1 , the NRC considered whether credit was warranted for Identification and Corrective Action in accordance with the civil penalty assessment process in Section VI.B.2 of the Enforcement Policy. The NRC determined that credit was warranted for Identification since each violation was either identified by your staff or self-revealed. Both high radiation area events were identified and documented through condition reporting system. Your staff's evaluation of the February 2, 1997, event identified that a primary contributor to the problems encountered during the tour event was the inadequate evaluation of the work to be performed. While the filter transfer event on February 24, 1997, was essentially self-revealed, your investigation determined that an inadequate evaluation again contributed to the problem, along with the failure to complete a safety analysis for the design change to the ventilation system. The NRC also determined that credit was warranted for Corrective Actions. Corrective actions completed to improve the ability to properly evaluate the extent of radiation levels and the potential radiological hazards that could be present included additional training for all station personnel, as well as reorganization of the radiation protection department to provide stronger oversight of radiation protection related activities and ALARA planning. Corrective actions were also developed to prevent similar problems with future filter transfers including specifying engineering controls for future evolutions.

Additionally, the station ventilation airflows were balanced in accordance with the design bases. Finally, training was provided to station personnel regarding the correct performance of work in high radiation areas and the importance of procedural adherence.

Therefore, to encourage prompt identification and comprehensive correction of violations, I have been authorized, after consultation with the Director, Office of Enforcement, not to propose a civil penalty in this case. However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty.

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report Nos. 50-155/97005(DRS), and your response to the inspection report dated June 18, 1997. Therefore, you are not required to respond to this letter unless the description in the docketed materials referenced above does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to provide additional information, you should follow the instructions specified in the enclosed Notice.

In accordance with 10 CFR 2.790 of the NRC's "Rules of Practice," a copy of this letter and its enclosure will be placed in the NRC Public Document Room (PDR).

                            Sincerely, 


                            A. Bill Beach
                            Regional Administrator 

Docket No. 50-155
License No. DPR-06

Enclosure: Notice of Violation

cc w/encl:
Robert A. Fenech, Senior Vice President Nuclear, Fossil and Hydro Operations
James R. Padgett, Michigan
Public Service Commission
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Attorney General (MI)


NOTICE OF VIOLATION

Consumers Energy Company
Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant
Docket No. 50-155
License No. DRP-06
EA 97-197

During an NRC inspection conducted on March 3, 1997 though April 28, 1997, violations of NRC requirements were identified. In accordance with the "General Statement of Policy and Procedure for NRC Enforcement Actions," NUREG-1600, the violations are listed below:

A. 10 CFR 20.1501 requires, in part, that the licensee make or cause to be made surveys that may be necessary for the licensee to comply with the regulations in Part 20 and that are reasonable under the circumstances to evaluate the extent of radiation levels, concentrations or quantities of radioactive materials, and the potential radiological hazards that could be present.

Pursuant to 10 CFR 20.1003, survey means an evaluation of the radiological conditions and potential hazards incident to the production, use, transfer, release, disposal, or presence of radioactive material or other sources of radiation.

10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1)(i), requires, in part, that the licensee shall control the occupational dose to individual adults to an annual total effective dose equivalent limit of 5 rems (0.05 Sv).

10 CFR 20.1701 requires, in part, that to the extent practicable, the use of process or other engineering controls (e.g., containment or ventilation) to control the concentrations of radioactive material in air.

1. Contrary to the above, on February 2, 1997, the licensee failed to properly evaluate the extent of radiation levels and the potential radiological hazards that could be present during a plant tour to ensure compliance with 10 CFR 20.1201(a)(1). Specifically, the pre-job planning for the tour, which occurred during low power operation rather than at 0% power when usually conducted, did not address historical data, ALARA considerations, or the radiological conditions in the area. (01013)

2. Contrary to the above, on February 24, 1997, the licensee failed to properly evaluate the potential radiological hazards associated with the transfer of the highly contaminated filters. Specifically, the licensee failed to consider the impact of transferring the filters which had dried for a month, rather than a week or two as usual. This transfer was completed without establishing the appropriate ventilation pathway to control radioactive material in the air in accordance with 10 CFR 20.1701. (01023)

B. Technical Specification 6.11 requires that procedures for personnel radiation protection shall be prepared consistent with the requirements of 10 CFR, Part 20, and shall be approved, maintained and adhered to for all operations involving personnel radiation exposure.

Administrative Procedure 5.8, "High Radiation Area Key and Access Control," (Revision 10), Step 5.1.f.7 required, in part, that a high radiation area shall be exited upon receipt of a personnel dosimetry alarm (eg, Electronic Dosimetry Entry Dose Level Alarm or Electronic Dosimetry Dose Rate Alarm).

Administrative Procedure 5.8, "High Radiation Area Key and Access Control," (Revision 10), Step 5.1.c required, in part, that high radiation areas having general area radiation fields greater than one rem/hr shall not be entered without accompaniment by a second person. Both people should be high radiation area access qualified, but if one is not, he or she shall be provided with dedicated radiation protection technician (RPT) coverage.

1. Contrary to the above, on February 2, 1997, two licensee personnel did not exit a high radiation area after receiving electronic dosimetry alarms during a plant tour as required by Administrative Procedure 5.8, a procedure for personnel radiation protection. (01033)

2. Contrary to the above, on January 20, 1997, a station engineer who was not high radiation area access qualified entered the reactor water clean-up pump room (a controlled high radiation area) on two occasions without dedicated RPT coverage as required by Administrative Procedure 5.8, a procedure for personnel radiation protection. (01043)

C. 10 CFR 50.59, "Changes, tests and experiments," permits the licensee to make changes to the facility and procedures as described in the safety analysis report and conduct tests or experiments not described in the safety analysis report without prior Commission approval provided the change does not involve a change in the Technical Specifications or an unreviewed safety question (USQ). The licensee shall maintain records of changes in the facility and these records must include a written safety evaluation which provides the bases for the determination that the change does not involve a USQ.

10 CFR 50.9(a) requires, in part, that information provided to the NRC by a licensee or information required by regulation to be maintained by a licensee shall be complete and accurate in all material respects.

Final Hazards Safety Report (FHSR), Section 11.3.2, states that air flow rates will remain sufficient to minimize build-up of airborne contamination and that flows begin in radioactively clean areas and are directed to potentially more highly contaminated areas then exhausted to the stack.

Drawing number 0740G40124, which is referenced in FHSR Section 11.3.2, indicates that air flows directly from the RWPA into the exhaust plenum and out the plant stack. This drawing indicates that the damper on the radwaste processing area (RWPA) exhaust plenum was to be open.

Contrary to the above, on February 24, 1997, the facility was not as described in the FHSR in that the air flow and damper positions were was not as specified in FHSR drawing number 0740G40124 and FHSR Section 11.3.2. The position of the RWPA exhaust plenum was closed which permitted air flow from the RWPA through the turbine building, into the pipe tunnel, and out the main stack. This air flow path resulted in a significant spread of contamination throughout the turbine building. A written safety evaluation was not performed to provide the bases for the determination that this change did not involve an unreviewed safety question. In addition, the updated FHSR was not complete and accurate in all material respects in that it did not reflect this change.

This is a Severity Level III problem (Supplement I and Supplement IV).

The NRC has concluded that information regarding the reason for the violation, the corrective actions taken and planned to correct the violation and prevent recurrence is already adequately addressed on the docket in Inspection Report Nos. 50-155/97005(DRS), and your response to the inspection report dated June 18, 1997. However, you are required to respond to the provisions of 10 CFR 2.201 if the description in the docketed materials referenced above does not accurately reflect your corrective actions or your position. In that case, or if you choose to respond, clearly mark your response as a "Reply to a Notice of Violation," and send it to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN:  Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555 with a copy to the Regional Administrator, Region III, and a copy to the NRC Resident Inspector at the facility that is the subject of this Notice, within 30 days of the date of the letter transmitting this Notice of Violation (Notice).

Dated at Lisle, Illinois
this 12th day of August 1997


1. A Severity Level III violation with a Civil Penalty of $50,000 was issued on May 24, 1995 for violations associated with the fire system and the neutron monitoring system (EA 95-057).

 
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